This Week’s Torah Portion Is Beshalach (Exodus 13:17–15:26)

Complete Video.

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and YouTube.

This week’s parsha is Beshalach.

* Did the vitriol expressed on Torah Talk cause the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords?

* Is the government controlling grammar?

* The Jews sing a song of praise to God and then they complain for four chapters. Knowing that human nature is to forget the good things done for us, the Torah prescribes numerous rituals to remember God’s redemption of the Jews from Egypt.

* When the Jews see the Egyptians pursuing them, they use the bitter kind of humor in which Jews excel. Why didn’t you let us die in Egypt?

* I dig what God says to Moshe in Ex. 14:15: “Why do you cry out to me? Go forth.” Stop standing around praying. Take action. Who needs 20 hours a week of davening?

* How does God gain glory by drowning the Egyptians? When God punishes the wicket ala the Egyptians, people complain that he is a God of vengeance. When He does not punish, people complain that the wicked prosper.

* Glory in Judaism is rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked. Glory in much of America and the Western world is having compassion for the wicked. Giving them therapy and parole.

* Punishing Egypt and freeing the Jews shows the world is governed by a moral order. History and God are on the side of the good. I believe that is true. The Nazis and Soviet communists and Japanese fascists came to a bad end.

* After the drowning, Egypt is no longer mentioned in the Torah. It is Egypt the metaphor, not Egypt the country, that matters to the Torah.

* In the midrash, God reproves the angels for preparing to sing about the drowning of the Egyptians but the Jews are not berated for singing a big song.

* If God took the Jews out of Egypt, why didn’t he take the Jews out of Europe before the Holocaust?

* Miriam is a prophet. If women can be prophets, then surely they can be rabbis. A prophet is a more prestigious role than prophet. A prophet has a divine role. They are ordained by God. Rabbis are not prophets, they’re just teachers. Isn’t this a kal vahomer?

* What does it mean to be free? We aren’t born free, we have to work for it, and freedom is not possible without God and law. You can’t be free unless you can control yourself. Otherwise you’ll be addicted to TV or to fun or to gambling or alcohol or sex.

As slaves, the Jews were not responsible for their own destiny. They didn’t have to feed themselves. Like poor people in the Western world who get welfare and free healthcare. The government keeps expanding school lunch programs. The left wants to take responsibility away from parents and give it to the state. We’ll feed your kids and give them college and abortions.

The greatest desire of the Jews in the wilderness is to be taken care of (Dennis Prager).

Reminds me of complaints that South Korean actresses are sex slaves.

* A child is taken care of. To be taken care of is deeper in most people than the desire to be free. The desire for unconditional love is childlike.

* What does Ex. 14: 30 mean? And the Jews trusted in God and in Moses? This seems like a compromise with monotheism. Moshe was never going to get into the promised land. If it means the Jews trusted in God and in Moses, what does that mean for us? If we trust in God, that means what? We can trust God to do what?

* Ex. 15:23 The Baal Shem Tov interprets that it is the people who are bitter, not the water. Bitter people see everything as bitter.

* What does it mean, “none of these diseases if you follow God’s law”? (Ex. 15:26) Does God reward people for keeping the Torah by giving them less disease? Isn’t the Torah system self-rewarding?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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